That annoying question. You know what you like but your mind goes blank. What do I like? Why can’t I think of anything? Am I boring?
No, you’re not boring :). With exam nerves it’s normal to panic sometimes. So, to avoid that, let’s prepare the hobbies question right now.
There are four main ways you can talk about your hobbies:
In my free time…..
I like + gerund
I like going swimming.
I love + gerund
I love travelling.
I enjoy + gerund
I enjoy having fun with my friends.
I + frequency adverb + present simple.
I usually read non-fiction books.
In the exam try to give examples in another verb tense. For example:
I love playing tennis. In fact, yesterday I played tennis with my best friend.
You can also impress the examiner with this:
If I had more time I would read more (second conditional, points, points, points).
I used to play the piano but now I don’t have time (“Used to” – more points).
So, don’t panic. You are not being marked for what you do but for how you say what you do. Keep it simple and learn the structures. And… enjoy! Go and watch a good film in English – with subtitles if you must. Make English one of your hobbies and all this will be easier! ;).
Student: I used to go out with my friends at the weekend.
Teacher: Ah, so now you don’t go out with your friends?
Student: Yes, yes, I used to… Ah no… I USUALLY go out with my friends!!
Teacher: Hehe, that’s right. Now, tell me something you USED TO do.
Student: AH, used to is like “solía”, isn’t it?
Teacher: Not exactly. It’s: “Antes era/hacía/decía etc”. For example: I used to be fat. This example doesn’t work with “solía”.
Student: AH, that’s true! OK, so, I used to be shy, and I didn’t used to go out very much. Now, I am very sociable and I USUALLY go out EVERY weekend!
Teacher: Fantastic! Now, tell me. Are you used to speaking English?
Student: Did I used to? Well, a little, at school. I didn’t SPEAK it very much, but I studied it.
Teacher: This is a different meaning of “Used to”. I am asking you if you are accustomed to speaking English.
Student: AH! Of course!! Yes, I suppose I am used to speak English… or at least, I am getting used to speak English – I am becoming accustomed. I have class every day, and I practice with my English-speaking friends once a week!
Teacher: Great! Just one correction. When we use “To be used to” as “To be accustomed”, or “Get used to” as “To become accustomed”, it is always followed by the gerund: I am used to speaking English.
Student: OK, perfect! I am used to English being confusing :P. I have got used to practicing a lot and being patient!!!
It’s that funny time of year where we decorate trees, eat and drink too much, and go shopping crazy! If an alien were to watch us from space what would he/she think?
Do you want to improve your English for Christmas? Here’s how:
Enjoy English! Find websites, videos, songs, series, films, people, trips etc that motivate you! Start to love the language and ask for presents in English.
Here’s a grammar tip for Christmas:
When we talk about activities we like, love or enjoy doing we should use the gerund:
I like going out with my friends on Christmas Eve.
I love spending time with my family at Christmas.
I enjoy opening all my presents and watching my family open theirs!
Finally, a silly fact. It is often said that Santa Claus is red because of Coca Cola. While there is some truth in that, the colours are also said to be inspired by the original Saint Nicholas, who was the Bishop of Myra in the 4th Century. Red and white were the colours of traditional bishop robes.
So, have you been good this year? Will Santa Claus come down the chimney to visit you, or will it be the Three Wise Men brining your presents?
Are you taking the Cambridge First (FCE) exam in 2015?
If so, don’t panic! There are three changes to the exam, and they are all positive!
1) The exam will be 30 minutes shorter than the current one.
2) The exam will have 4 papers, instead of 5!
3) The Reading and Use of English papers will now be combined!
The Reading and Use of English will last 1 hour and 15 minutes. It shows that you can understand texts from publications such as books, magazines and newspapers. It also tests your general language knowledge.
The Writing will last 1 hour and 20 minutes. It shows you can write different text types such as an essay, a report or a letter.
The Listening will last 40 minutes. It shows that you can follow a range of spoken materials, such as news and everyday conversations.
The Speaking will last 14 minutes. It shows you can communicate effectively in face-to-face situations. You take this part of the test with one or two other candidates.
You will receive a separate grade for each of the four skills (reading, listening, speaking and writing), and the Use of English. The scores are averaged to give you an overall result for the exam.
Now, to destroy a myth: the Cambridge FCE does not expire! Yes, a company or an educational institution may ask for a more recent certificate if you passed the exam more than 2 years ago, but there is no expiry date on the certificate – it’s for life.
For more information on the changes to the exam see here: http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/exams/first/exam-update-for-2015/
Enjoy your exam preparation!
Imagine you had magic powers for a day. You have the control. What would you want other people to do? Your family members, your colleagues, your friends, your partner…. What would you say?
I want you to be more understanding at work.
I want you to help me with the housework!
I want you to come with me to the cinema!
I want you to do a silly dance in the street!
Maybe you don’t need to be Harry Potter to say these things, but the point here is this. To tell someone what you want him/her to do in English is NOT:
I want that you are less serious.
I want you to be less serious.
Subject + want + object + infinitive.
Try it with someone today in English… See how they react!
Please, thank you, you’re welcome. Not at all. Please. Thank you so much…
Yes. The British are a nation of intense politeness. While in Spain we say:
“Give me a coffee”. In the UK they say: “Could I have a coffee please?”
“Put me some toast”, compared to: “May I have some toast, please?”
Here are 5 keys to British politeness:
1) Don’t get too close
British people need their space. Don’t stand too close to them or touch them while you are speaking. When you meet them, shake hands. After that, it’s a pat on the back, hug, or one kiss on the cheek if you haven’t seen them for a while. If you see them regularly, a nod and a smile is enough.
2) Ask indirect question using modal verbs.
Compare: “What is the time?” To: “Could you tell me what the time is please?”
Or: ·Help me with this” vs: Would you mind helping me with this, please?”
3) Don’t talk too loudly.
British people are usually quite softly spoken.
4) ‘Pleases’ and ‘thank yous’ are vital!
You can never say too many.
5) Don’t eat the last piece!
British people will always leave the last “bit” on a shared plate to be polite. So, no matter how delicious that last piece of cake looks…. leave it sitting there lonely.
A common mistake in English is to say: “I should to go to doctor’s”, “I can to go to the cinema tonight”, or: “I must to talk to him”.
The “to” is incorrect!
The following modal verbs do NOT have “to” after them:
You must study. If you don’t you will fail the exam.
She is driving an expensive car. She must be rich.
If you feel ill you should go to the doctor’s.
She should win the race as she is the best!
I can play the guitar.
Can I open the window, please?
He might come to the party but I’m not sure.
May I go to the toilet, please?
This afternoon I could go to the cinema or I could go to the beach.
Could you tell me what the time is, please?
If I had more time I would do a master’s degree.
Would you mind helping me, please?
Will you show me the way to the meeting room please?”
I will call you, I promise.
You had better stop smoking otherwise you will get ill.
You had better not call me after 22:00, as you will wake me up!
Shall we go?
Shall I send it to you?
These modal verbs DO use “to”:
Have to/Need to
I have to go to the supermarket to get some eggs.
I need to tell you something.
Be able to
I’ve been calling her, but I haven’t been able to reach her.
I used to be able to do handstands, but I’m not flexible enough now!
Oops! I was supposed to call her but I didn’t. I forgot!
They’re supposed to train me but I’m not sure if they will.
You’re not allowed to smoke in this bar.
They are allowed to have lunch between 12:00 and 14:00.
You really ought to go the dentist’s. You haven’t been in years!
She ought to stop talking, as she isn’t giving everyone else a chance!
The modal verbs can be confusing. Our advice is that you learn them by their uses, and practice, practice, practice, until you feel comfortable with them. The more reading and listening practice you do, the more you will see and hear that the modal verbs are everywhere!
Todo el mundo habla del B1, baby! Queremos que estés preparado y que incluso disfrutes de la preparación del examen! :P…
Aquí te dejamos nuestro “Top 3” de consejos:
1) Aprende y utiliza el lenguaje específico que quieren escuchar.
Cuando describes fotos el/la examinador/a quiere escucharte decir:
In the background/foreground I can see…
She looks happy/sad/tired
The tall man in the center of the photo is wearing…
Utiliza los exámenes de speaking y writing para mostrar tus conocimientos. Por ejemplo, utilizando otros tiempos verbales. Aunque te pregunten en el presente, contesta en el presente y el futuro:
I really love swimming. In fact, this weekend I am going to go swimming with my friends.
En las partes colaborativas, el examinador quiere verte interactuar con tu compañero/a. Si conoces a tu compañero/a antes del examen, mejor. Si no, prepárate para conectarte con la persona que te toca (contacto de ojos, sonrisas, lenguaje corporal abierto, y escucha activa), y prepara frases de este tipo:
What do you think?
What’s your opinion?
I completely agree with you.
I see what you mean, but…
2) Haz todos los ejemplos de exámenes pasados que puedas.
Se suelen repetir tipos de preguntas, y además, haciendo exámenes te das cuenta de cuáles son tus puntos débiles. No huyas de hacer los exámenes – cuanto antes empieces y cuantos más hagas, mejor. Trabajar con preguntas reales de otros exámenes es la mejor preparación que hay.
Si ahora se te atasca el inglés, es hora de cambiar el chip. NO es verdad que se te dé mal. Es simplemente que hasta ahora:
a) No habrás tenido los mejores profesores o método de enseñanza.
b) No has encontrado material que te gusta en inglés. Hoy en día hay de todo en Internet. Pregúntate: ¿Qué es lo que me gusta en español? Y busca contenidos de tu respuesta en inglés – canciones, películas, series, vídeos, documentales, radio, blogs etc. Puedes utilizar subtítulos, letras de canciones, traducciones etc para ayudarte. Lo importante es que escuches, veas y leas cosas que te motivan.
c) No te has organizado bien. Desde ISA Estudios Internacionales te podemos ayudar mucho pero al fin y al cabo la persona responsable de tu propio aprendizaje eres tú. Organiza bien tus apuntes en secciones (elementos de gramática, temas, pronunciación, phrasal verbs, etc). Resume toda la información que tengas en tus propias palabras en un cuaderno para repasar con frecuencia. Y disfrútaloooo!!! Mola poder entender las series en versión original.
1) With 1000s of “fill in the gap” exercises
Just because you can fill in gaps correctly doesn’t mean you can speak English. These types of exercises should form a small % of your weekly study.
2) 5 hours today and 0 tomorrow
Learning a language is a process and lifestyle choice. You MUST be constant and committed to it. It is better to do 20 minutes of English every day than to do hours of study today and nothing tomorrow.
3) With boring material
Find things you LOVE in English! Music, films, series, videos, documentaries, blogs, radio, podcasts… Subtitles and translations are allowed! As long as your goal is to use them less and less. Write down the new words and pronunciation you learn every time you do something in English.
4) Without objectives
Set yourself objectives regularly. For example:
- • Pass the exam or the job interview.
- • Understand a telephone conversation.
- • Give a presentation in English.
- • Use English abroad.
- • Use the past tense and present perfect correctly.
Etc. The list is endless. Set your objectives yourself or with your teacher.
5) Not caring about pronunciation
Making a bit more effort with pronunciation and intonation make a HUGE difference in how well you communicate in English. They form a mighty 38% of our communication.
6) Shy and embarrassed
This is related to the previous point. 55% of our communication is our body language – just 7% is our words! If you are confident, daring and open, your communication improves by 55%! If you stay in your comfort zone your English will NOT improve. So, although we completely understand that it’s hard, “fuera sentido del ridículo”!